There is no greater honor than that of influencing, educate, motivate and inspire the precious asset on the planet, our children. That is why being little league coach is one of the greatest and one of the most humbling responsibilities any adult can ever hope to achieve.
It doesn’t matter if you set out to become a little league coach from a young age, or from the moment you first became a parent. Nor does it matter if this all happened from a momentary loss of sense when you signed your little one up for the tea, and then ticked the box that said you willing to coach, not believing you would ever be asked in a million years.
Whatever the reason you ended up in this hallowed role, don’t worry, because we are here to help you become the ultimate little league coach, we are here to help you have some of the best times of your life and – with the right tips, tricks, equipment, and advice – you’ll be able to pass the torch onto the next generation, and see them adopt a real love for the sport you coached them through.
Know The Rules
If you’re coaching little league, then chances are you either have an idea of the rules or you have been sent a pack that contains a list of the rules, which can chop and change depending on what age the kids in your team are. What’s more, the rules are probably not going to be the same as the ones the MLB follow and adhere to, the rules you actually know. So make sure you sit down in the evenings and understand what is considered acceptable at the level you are going to be teaching. So, yeah, grab a cold one and get stuck into the do’s and do not’s, and know what will make the game more enjoyable. That’s the thing every player and parents wants to see, enjoyment.
Okay, so it doesn’t really matter what age or skill level you are coaching at, there are four main skill areas that you’re going to need to coach: batting, catching, throwing and running. So figure out a way to isolate each of these areas in your training sessions, and make them fun as well as informative. How you do this is entirely up to your personality and your kids experience levels and ways of learning, but here are a few ideas:
Confidence and inclusion are the keys here. You’re teaching little ones how to play baseball and all little ones who play baseball just want to hit. So give all of them an equal turn and motivate them with unrelenting enthusiasm because confidence is going to be your best friend. Confidence is going to be the best way to give them an incredible experience of the game. So have lots of bats – and have an understanding of why every coach needs the best Fungo bat for 2017 season too – and have lots of pitchers, whether players or parents. The more swinging you can get going the more enjoyment will sprout from your sessions and the more comfortable they will be during their games.
Catching isn’t just a way of having fun or gaining experience, it is also about safety. So from the get-go, teach your little ones to hold their glove out in front of them with their palms forward. Teach them to close the ball inside the glove. Teach kids to aim for the glove when throwing. Give them a feel for it. And teach them a ton of different ways to catch, from high balls to ground strokes. Motivate, motivate, motivate.
It sucks, but television and video games have had a huge impact on a kids outdoor fun, so throwing and catching are no longer childhood pastimes. That means you are going to have to teach them to throw and encourage mums and dads to play catch in the garden too. As such, this is a great exercise to start each session off with as it will warm them up. It will also allow you to get each session underway in a positive fashion by encouraging those who need it.
Baserunning experience is key. So teach them the basics, how to run as soon as they’ve hit and how to run past first. Stick to the basics before going into the specifics of in’s per inning and all of that.
We don’t mean be offensive with your language, we mean teaching them the importance of hitting and running in scoring runs, putting scores on the board and thus winning. So concentrate on each kids batting, tell them where they can improve and where they doing well. It could be that their knees are locked or their swing isn’t level. Take a video if you need to. But what is crucial to remember, and what will be crucial in the eyes of parents, is how you encourage them. Batting is all about confidence; it is a mental game. So praise and encourage and help them out where needed. And don’t just do it in training. Exude confidence in your lineup by spreading all capabilities out evenly.
Don’t place more importance on offense than defense, because you will ruin a lot of confidence if you do this. Some kids are batters, some are pitchers and others are good in the field, and each is as important as the other. So concentrate on teaching your players the rules, and how they can get the opponents out by catching or running them out. And teach them all about pop-ups, and grounders and how to know which base to throw to in order to prevent big scores as well as getting players out. Teach them how to throw hard and flat, and how to get a man on the base ready to catch. Teach them what to look for in a hitter, and how you can tell if someone is going for a big swing or just a bunt, in which case they need to be ready to charge the ball.